Planning your future home, post pandemic

While Australia has seen a peak in building activity since the pandemic, experts have raised concerns that many homes lack features to future-proof them from pandemics, climate change, and remote working.

We learnt a lot during the pandemic as we got somewhat more intimately acquainted with the space we inhabited. Now, our lives are different, so there is a call for a shift in the way homes are designed and the materials that we use, in consideration of building a healthy and future-proof home.

Open plan living worked a treat when we all spent so much time at work and socialising, as it brought families and people together into one space. Thanks to all those hours of lockdown, people have realigned their priorities for their living spaces as we maintain remote and hybrid work, are mostly travelling less due to the price tags, and have gotten a little used to socialising differently and less.

And we’ve had a lot of time to think about our ‘space’.

Our homes have become more than just a place to live, they are now a sanctuary away from the outside world. In this new era of living, we’re seeing a move towards broken plan living, with screens, curtains, and strategically placed bookcases becoming more commonplace within existing open plan layouts.

But to truly future-proof your home, it’s essential to consider both the features and design considerations that will make your home functional, sustainable and beautiful for years to come.

Future-Proof Features

Far from being a luxury, some of these features are considered important and necessary features that should be incorporated into new builds:

  • Smart mirrors with built-in tech display weather forecasts, news and other information.
  • Double-glazed windows help reduce heat loss in winter, heat gain in summer, and reduce external noise for workspaces, etc.
  • Multi-split air conditioning controls the temperature in different parts of the home lending to energy efficiency.
  • Integrated 5G offers faster speeds and more reliable technology for modern smart homes.
  • Electric Vehicle charging stations in the home will be considered valuable for their convenience and cost-effectiveness as the EV shift accelerates.
  • Good insulation and ventilation are essential for maintaining a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.

Design Consideration

Now, Australians are hyper aware of their surroundings and what they desire from their living space; designers and architects are having to adapt to the new future, too.

Natural light has become a vital lifeline, and open-concept floor plans have become an intolerable intrusion on privacy. The question is, what have we learned about what we want from our living space?

  • Dedicated or adaptable spaces for work, study and video conferencing for continued remote and hybrid work and education.
  • Touchless tech, such as faucets, light switches and door openers, can reduce spread of contamination and germs.
  • Air filtration systems and increased ventilation will improve indoor air quality for healthier living spaces.
  • Investment in energy efficient appliances, insulation and solar for sustainability, reduction in environmental impact, and long-term savings.
  • Design for adaptability and accessibility such as planning for potential changes in your household’s needs, such as ageing in place or accommodating family members with disabilities.
  • Prioritising hygienic and easy-to-clean surfaces, materials and finishes, including antimicrobial countertops and flooring.

Taking the Indoors Out and Bringing the Outdoors In

The pandemic forcing us indoors has made outdoor spaces more of a priority than ever, and it’s becoming a must for everyone.

It’s almost like we’ve moved back to the Australian dream, with a vacant lot, a pool out the back, the backyard cricket pitch, the Hills hoist, and lots of space.

Well, not quite, but you get the point.

Creating a private, personal, and stylish home garden is a trend, even if you don’t have one. From using vertical gardens to creating mini rooftop gardens, there are many ways to make the most of the space you have.

Outdoor heating, solar lighting, waterproof cushions, and rugs can all help turn an outdoor space into an all-year-round extension of your home for relaxation or a catch up with friends and family.

We are also seeing, and will continue to see:

  • Terraces and rooftops create seamless connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, perfect for long days at home.
  • Backyard sheds are being transformed into elaborate man caves, she-sheds, gyms, and children’s retreats, with some shed companies seeing astronomical sales increases.
  • Well-styled and landscape gardens that can boost home values by up to 25%, and backyard activities, like basketball, netball, cricket, trampolining, and outdoor dining set ups, are more popular than ever.
  • Vegetable patches have been a way to pass the time for some and ensure easy access to fresh food amid panic buying and grocery store closures, while backyard chicken sales have skyrocketed.
  • More people are seeking the Australian dream of a backyard pool, with many builders fully booked for the foreseeable future and struggling to keep up with demand.

Other Changing Trends in Home Design

With more time spent at home, people have been exploring DIY projects, upcycling old furniture, and painting their walls. This trend is not only an affordable way to refresh your home, but it can also have a positive impact on the environment.

Colour is more than just decorative; it has a huge psychological impact on us. We’re noticing a move towards warmer hues with pink undertones, almond-coloured neutrals, earthy-toned accents, and nature-inspired greens.

We’re also welcoming the trend towards curved shapes in furniture design, which creates seating that you may never want to leave.

Kitchen and bathroom design is likely to move towards clutter-free, minimalist styles that are easy to keep clean and sterilise.

Voice control options for ovens, lights, and televisions may also become more common.

Embracing Change: Beneficial to Everyone

In this new era of living, it’s time to embrace change, adapt, and create a home that suits your needs now and in the future. By making small changes to the design of our homes, we can create spaces that are both functional and beautiful.

The pandemic has taught us to appreciate our homes more, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for home design.

With greater creativity using local materials and styles, a reduction of the carbon footprint in design, and greater support for local businesses, I believe that future-proofing your home is about more than just the features and design considerations; it’s about creating a space that is sustainable, environmentally friendly, and adaptable to your changing needs.

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